September 21, 2016

NIAC Action Urges No Vote on H.R. 5461

Contact: Jamal Abdi
Phone: (202) 386-6408
Email: [email protected]

Washington, DC – NIAC Action issued the following statement regarding today’s planned House vote on H.R. 5461, the Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act:
H.R. 5461 claims to be aimed at tackling corruption in Iran but in fact it represents a potential backdoor sanction that risks undermining U.S. obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and benefitting Iran’s hardliners. NIAC Action encourages Congress reject this bill when it is on the floor this afternoon and to instead consider productive, non-politicized approaches to addressing corruption and to facilitate broader openings in Iran. We also note that the White House has issued a statement warning against passage of the bill and indicating that the President would veto it.
This legislation is likely to, and may indeed be intended to, undermine the implementation of sanctions relief under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Difficulties in effectuating sanctions relief under the accord are well documented. Many banks and businesses continue to be deterred from entering Iran as envisioned under the JCPOA due to the complexities of remaining U.S. sanctions on Iran, including the extensive list of designated entities that international firms must avoid if they reenter the Iranian market. In establishing a new Treasury Department list outlining assets under the direct or indirect control of Iranian leadership, H.R. 5461 is duplicative and would create significant confusion regarding permissible trade with Iran under the JCPOA. This seriously risks undermining U.S. implementation of the accord.
The inability to deliver sanctions relief does not serve U.S. interests but is in fact a serious challenge. Some in Congress appear determined to remove all incentives for Iran to comply with the nuclear agreement and, in so doing, have risked putting U.S. obligations at risk. Moreover, the broad Iranian public who supported negotiations with the U.S. and backed the nuclear concessions of the JCPOA have expressed increasing disappointment with the economic benefits the agreement has thus far yielded. This has diminished political support for the agreement within the country and undermined those who seek further engagement and a more moderate direction. A failure to deliver sanctions relief only plays into the hands of those in Iran who argued against dealing with the U.S. and making any concessions on the nuclear program.
Corruption in Iran is a problem that hurts the Iranian people and undermines Iran’s potential. This corruption, however, has in large part been enabled through economic sanctions and tensions between Iran and the West that hardliners have exploited. The nuclear deal presents a new opportunity for greater transparency through the opening up of Iran’s economy and increased opportunities for ordinary Iranians. Rather than back efforts that risk further closing Iran’s economy by complicating sanctions relief, Congress should consider supporting non-politicized steps to address this issue. The Financial Action Task Force recently acknowledged positive steps by Iran to bring itself into compliance with global banking norms. The Treasury Department has noted that Iran is taking steps to improve its anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) standards. These steps must be encouraged and advanced. Further steps, including licensing U.S. persons to provide technical advice to Iranian banks to accelerate Iran’s adherence to global AML/CFT standards, represent a more productive approach to dealing with the corruption issues that H.R.5461 claims to address.


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